WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- The Class of 2004 may do well to include defense contractors and government agencies in their job searches: six of the top ten employers pledging to hire the most new college graduates this year, according to a Web site dedicated to helping students find entry-level jobs, are linked to the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for instance, is "absolutely" hiring more new grads because of these circumstances, said Special Agent and Recruiter Joe Carrico.
"The 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq brought to the forefront needs we've been requesting for a long time," Carrico said. "Because of these catastrophes, we've now gotten the support we need, and there has been an improvement in the numbers hired and in beefing up our professional support."
The Web site, CollegeGrad.com, touts itself as the "number one entry-level job site on the Internet." The group has been ranking employers this way for six years. This year's top hiring organization was Enterprise Rent-a-Car, with 6,500 projected hires straight out of college, but the next five top hiring firms were from the homeland security sector.
Coming in at number two was defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which pledged to hire 3,800 new grads. Next in line, at number three, is the FBI, which will hire 3,567 grads.
The Citizenship and Immigration Service (formerly called the Immigration and Naturalization Service) weighs in at number four with 3,000 graduate hires to tie with two other non-homeland security companies, and defense contractor Boeing shares the number five spot with two other non-homeland security company, with its promise to hire 2,500.
United States Customs and Border Protection comes in at a tie for number six with consulting firm PricewaterhouseCooper, with both hiring around 2,250 new grads.
The National Security Agency is in ninth place with 1,600.
By contrast, the Air Force and the Navy, tied for 12th place at 1,200, bringing the total number of wartime jobs available to the class of 2004 to 19,117, according to CollegeGrad.com.
"The advantage of hiring a new college graduate ..We can develop their skills and build them from the ground stages to a senior analyst," said the FBI's Carrico.
"We like to take a start-to-finish approach," he said.
Besides getting jobs as agents, Carrico said, there is "an array of professional support" positions at the FBI with opportunities for graduates.
Many of the FBI's new hires will be for "investigative specialists," which Carrico described as a "surveillance position." Investigative specialists are not agents, he said, because they are not providing surveillance in high-risk situations like drug or bank robbery cases.
Still, an investigative specialist would conduct surveillance or espionage on people considered a terrorist threat.
The FBI will also be looking for new grads to fill financial analyst and lab positions.
At Lockheed Martin, however, the war climate "has had no impact with regard to hiring," Spokesman Jeff Adams said.
Instead, he said, "With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security there has been an upswing in the number of people with security clearances, and this is in terms of all entry-level hires, not just recent college graduates."
"A significant number of our entry-level positions require the ability to get security clearance," Adams said.
According to career counselors, the job forecast for graduating seniors is optimistic.
"I think the market is easing some for this season's graduating class, but it depends on the industry sector and the major degree," Julia Overton-Healy, the director of the Office of Career Development at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, said.
"From an industry view, working for the government continues to be a strong option, especially for Borders/Customs and Homeland Security," Overton-Healy said.
Other organizations say they are committed to hiring new grads, but may not be able to make the numbers projected by CollegeGrad.com. Conflicting with the CollegeGrad report, the Citizenship and Immigration Service has been under a hiring freeze since October 2003, according to spokesman Chris Bentley.
"We're constantly looking to add individuals; to add the best and the brightest," Bentley said. "I anticipate we will be able to begin hiring again, but I'm not overly confident in that statistic," he said, referring to the 3,000 new grads CollegeGrad.com said CIS would hire.